#ActNow

You see a half naked kid selling balloons at a traffic light. You read in the papers that 23 girls were rescued from a brothel. You wonder if you should tell your sister that you’ve seen your niece flinch every time her uncle visits. You worry about your son who has retreated silently into himself ever since the teacher taped his mouth shut in class one day.

Every day, some child makes your heart break a little. You feel overwhelmed. You shut down, at a loss for what to do. Don’t. Because there IS a lot YOU can do.
Stand up for a Child
#ActNow

Because every child has the right to feel safe. Every day. Everywhere.

Make schools safe

Cliched as it may sound, schools are a child’s second home. They have a right to feel safe and protected in a place where they spend up to eight hours a day. When children feel unsupported and unheard in school, when they feel isolated, picked-on and humiliated, it affects them academically, socially, emotionally...

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Say NO to child labour

Remember how proud you were when an Indian got the Nobel Peace Prize for raising his voice against child labour? And remember how deep inside you were also ashamed because really, what it highlighted is that we have millions of children who are forced to work, just to survive? An ILO and UCW report has pegged that number at 5.8 million children.

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Be alert to child sexual abuse

It’s painful to think about. It’s almost impossible to even imagine that it happens. But it does. A lot. To frighteningly large numbers of children.

Child sexual abuse is much more prevalent than we think. According to a Government of India report on child abuse, 53.2% of children surveyed (...)

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What can you do?

Check that your child's school has a Child Protection Policy. It’s a minimum standard to ensure a safe environment for children and that protective systems are in place to address issues like harsh punishments, bullying, physical and sexual abuse and harassment of all kinds.

Read more
 
What can you do?

Start at home – how old are the people who work for you?

Go a step further – talk to your family, your friends, your neighbours, your housing society. Tell them to say no to child labour too.

Read more
 
What can you do?

Always believe a child when they tell you that someone is hurting them. Stopping child abuse is an adult’s responsibility.

Pay attention to your child and his or her responses to the people around. Don’t make reporting it the child’s work.

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- Call the helpline number for children, Childline, on 1098. Wait with the child till help shows up.
- Call the police on 100 or go to the nearest police station. File a report and follow up on the complaint.
- If a child is missing, upload all the information you have on khoyapaya.gov.in. It's a government web portal to report and track information on missing children.
- Ask the child if there is someone they trust and you can contact for them.
- Talk to the child; reassure them that there are adults who will act on their behalf.

Tell us your story and send us a photograph at actnow@aanganindia.org of how you are a champion for children. Or write to us about a friend, relative or neighbour who is standing up for children. It may be that you spoke out against a child being beaten, protected a child from a bully in the park or had a conversation with a distressed child, listening and reassuring them that you care.

Watch this space - we will share how you stood up for a child to inspire others to take action.



This weeks' champions for children: Aditi and Neelam.


"We've always enjoyed telling stories - our kids love it - and so we decided to share the joy with other kids," say Aditi and Neelam, who formed a group called Chashtago. Aditi and Neelam go to different schools, NGOs, libraries, summer camps etc., reading aloud and telling stories to children.

As young girls, their parents would read all kinds of books to them- fairy tales, adventures, mystery, and all other genre of books. Now, as mothers of school going kids, Aditi and Neelam have carried on the story-telling tradition.

"We don't see many kids reading books these days" explains Aditi, talking about their motivation behind starting Chashtago. Through this initiative, Aditi and Neelam want to whet children’s interest in books, so they can also experience the thrill and magic that stories offer. "Starting this has given us a chance to relive our childhood!" they add.

Aditi and Neelam conduct 30-45 minute story-telling sessions with kids from all backgrounds and try to be as inclusive as possible. "Every child has the right to enjoy stories, why should any child be deprived of this joy"? says Aditi.

At storytelling sessions, they cover a variety of topics ranging from fantasy and make believe to mysteries, hygiene and health to pure fun stories. They also tell stories related to social issues like kids with special needs and how they can be supported.

Through the many story sessions at Chashtago that they have conducted, Neelam and Aditi have realised that be it the rapidly advancing technology, or the presence of multiple screens like television, electronic gadgets, or the environment at home, many children across social and economic strata are not as inclined to reading or listening to stories as in olden days.

No child should be deprived of the basic childhood pleasure of listening to and reading stories. Chashtago’s story beautifully manifests this. By creating an inclusive environment for all children, Chashtago hopes to spread joy among kids through stories!

Click on each photo to hear from others who are standing up for children
 
Make schools safe

Cliched as it may sound, schools are a child’s second home. They have a right to feel safe and protected in a place where they spend up to eight hours a day. When children feel unsupported and unheard in school, when they feel isolated, picked-on and humiliated, it affects them academically, socially, emotionally. What’s worse, it can make them more vulnerable to sexual and serious physical abuse.

One in two children surveyed in a government study in India say that they have experienced emotional abuse, and 65% of school-going children have experienced corporal punishment. That’s not just wrong, it’s also against the law according to:

- Section 17 (1) of The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009
- Section 23 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000
- Section 3 rule VI of the Juvenile Justice Rules, 2007

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What can you do?

If you're a parent, teacher or school administrator, here are several things you can check on to ensure a child’s protection in school:

  • Does your child’s school have a Child Protection Policy? It's a minimum standard to ensure a safe environment and that protective systems are in place to address issues like harsh punishments, bullying, physical and sexual abuse and harassment of all kinds.
  • Have teachers undergone trainings to deal with bullying, sexual abuse, child right or other laws pertaining to children?
  • Have parents trainings/ workshops on awareness conducted?
  • Have children been spoken to about these issues?
  • Are there guidelines and protocols that are known to teachers, parents and children to bring up child protection issues?
  • Are there mechanisms in place for safer reporting on any incidents?
  • Are there designated people, known to teachers, parents and children, to deal with any child protection issues?
  • Is there a bullying policy?
  • What is the school policy on corporal punishment?
  • Are school transport buses have vetted drivers, assistants?
  • Are adequate security measures to ensure that child leave the school premises with known people or other safe method?
  • Is there a recruitment and verification procedure for teaching, non-teaching, contractual, voluntary and other staff, before they are allowed to work with the children? Do they have background checks or need to provide a minimum number of checkable references?
  • Are visits by outsiders/ visitors monitored and recorded?
  • Does your child's school have a Parent Teacher Association? It’s where you can play an active role in shaping policies that keep children safe - mandatory in all private, aided and unaided schools affiliated to all boards, and all parents are members.
  • What is the school's policy on a child's confidentiality?
  • Are protocols in place governing one-to-one teaching, detention, out of school events, school tours, overnight stays, etc?
  • Is there a School Management Committee? It’s compulsory in all government schools and its purpose is to monitor the working of the school.
  • If you think your child is facing any form of abuse in school, or if you hear about something that disturbs you that's happening with another child, contact the class teacher and principal to find ways together to keep all children safe.


This may seem like a daunting list but it’s an important one. To know more about any of these and how you can ACT NOW, please email us at: actnow@aanganindia.org or call us on: 022- 23 525 832

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Say NO to child labour

Remember how proud you were when an Indian got the Nobel Peace Prize for raising his voice against child labour? And remember how deep inside you were also ashamed because really, what it highlighted is that we have millions of children who are forced to work, just to survive? An ILO and UCW report has pegged that number at 5.8 million children.

They are cleaning our homes, looking after our children, sorting through our garbage, delivering our groceries, serving us dhaba-chai. They are in brick kilns and sweatshops and makeshift factories, weaving carpets, rolling bidis, cutting gems and repairing automobiles.

Don’t stop at just being ashamed. Stop child labour.

Because keeping children out of school and at work won't help them or their families or the country. And it’s also against the law, according to:

- Section 3 of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986
- Section 26 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000

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What can you do?

- Start at home – how old are the people who work for you?

- Go a step further – talk to your family, your friends, your neighbours, and your housing society. Tell them to say no to child labour too.

- What about at work? Make sure that neither your company nor your supply chain is employing children

- Is there a brand you know of that uses child labour? Why not write about it, tweet about it, blog about it? Taking your business and your acceptance away, making your feelings known publicly are powerful tools that you can use.

- Talk to your employees about their children - are they in school? Tell them about the Right to Education Act, which entitles children to free and compulsory education till 14, and the midday meal scheme.

- To report child labour you can call the Childline helpline number 1098. It’s an all-India emergency outreach number for children who need protection.

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Be alert to child sexual abuse

It’s painful to think about. It’s almost impossible to even imagine that it happens. But it does. A lot. To frighteningly large numbers of children.

Child sexual abuse is much more prevalent than we think. According to a Government of India report on child abuse, 53.2% of children surveyed report having faced one or more forms of sexual abuse. It happens to both girls and boys.

Of course it happens to very young children, but actually, it peaks when children are between 12-15 years old.

Most child sexual abuse happens by known people - family, friends, neighbours, teachers. It relies on a relationship of trust with the child and the family. That’s what makes it so hard to uncover or talk about and stop, so devastating for a child.

But you can be alert, and children are protected under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

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What can you do?

- Always believe a child when they tell you that someone is hurting them. Stopping child abuse is an adult’s responsibility.

- Pay attention to your child and his or her responses to the people around. Don’t make reporting it the child’s work. Everyone who has contact with children must be alert to and must respond to the cues children send.

- Teach your children about sexual abuse. Teach them to know what touching is okay and what is not.

- Give your child the confidence to say NO, and to reach out for help whenever they feel uncomfortable or scared.

- If you know of a child who is being sexually abused do what you can to stop it and to protect him or her. Find a support system for the child and yourself so that you can help the child in a sustainable way.

- Child sexual abuse is a criminal offence and you can report it by calling 1098, or going to the police yourself.

If you would like more information, please contact us at: actnow@aanganindia.org

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